I have known Erik Flak (Phydeau on deviantArt) since I joined dA in June 2008 and we have become online friends and collaborators - we are both involved with the dA group Fine Art-Photography and the one I recently founded with Iris Dassault, Models-Photographers.
Erik has been taking photographs for some years and I have particularly admired his underwater nudes, one of which was recently awarded a Daily Deviation (a DD as it is known) on dA.
I have asked Erik to tell us a little about himself and his work.
I took pictures until I went to college, at which point I was required to pay for my own film and developing. I slowed down a lot after that. Later, point-and shoot digital cameras came along, and I gave up on the SLR all together. Point-and-shoot cameras aren't bad - I managed to get the occasional good shot - but they really just don't have the control of an SLR.
Lush loveDuring those years, my main artistic outlet was through drawing. I liked to draw people, and in particular nudes. A friend introduced me to deviantART in 2006 so I could show off my drawings. I quickly became addicted to the site. I had no idea there were that many talented artists in the world. dA changed my view toward photographic artistic nudes. I didn't know there were that many people doing that, either. It was the first time I got involved in a discussion of art vs. pornography. Until then, I had made the assumption that with very rare exceptions most photographic nudes were of the prurient variety. I changed that way of thinking quickly. The artistic nude gallery is probably the reason my interest in photography was renewed.
My most popular deviation at the time was actually not a drawing, but a composite image I made by morphing 32 faces together. I did 3 of those, using the same celebrities at 3 different angles.
I decided that I wanted to do the project again, only with more control of the variables as opposed to the random weirdness I got from internet searches. While I was at it, I thought it might be a good idea to do it full-torso.
I asked for volunteers, and the only responses I got were all along the lines of, "Eh, seems like you just want girls to send you naked pictures." There's a dozen reasons why that was ridiculous, but I didn't argue with them. I just said to myself, "Well. I guess I'm going to have to do it myself. And that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks: "Why the hell am I NOT a nude photographer?" I decided that moment to finally break down and buy a DSLR.
I didn't just jump into it, though. I spent almost 2 years learning to use the camera well, and practicing hard. Sometimes I used myself as a model.
My biggest challenge is money. I can't afford to hire models, and the bible belt isn't exactly crawling with models willing to work for trade. Thankfully, my main model, Cassandra, has been kind to me a few times. What they say is true. The more times you work with a model the easier it gets. We're more like friends than just photographer and model, now.
I'd like to eventually broaden the types of models I work with. Different ages, weights, ethnicities, and not just women.
My favorite photograph is one of the first I ever took of a model. I knew I wanted a specific look, but I wasn't able to articulate what exactly that was. I had her positioned on the edge of the bathtub for over ten minutes trying to get it. Finally, there was this moment. I suspect she was running out of ideas of how to pose in such a confined way, and for a second she stopped posing. That brief moment when she was in her own head was what I wanted.
The MomentI titled the piece "The moment" not just for that reason, but because it was the turning point for me. Until then, I thought I wasn't going to hack it as a photographer. I was worried that I was wasting her time, and that I'd be percieved as the "GWC". After that shot, I felt unstoppable, and the rest of the shoot went beautifully. It was my moment, too"
Thank you Erik, for sharing that moment with us.